Since typical union security clauses can mislead workers into believing that they do become members and must pay full dues, the Supreme Court ruled in 1988, in its pioneering Beck case, that a union must inform workers that they have the right to refuse union membership and pay only essential financial dues. If the union does not give the required notification, the union has violated the National Labor Relations Act and a worker is entitled, at his request, to the reimbursement of taxes and expenses that the worker pays to the union in addition to the basic financial contributions. In the United States, union security is defined as an agreement in which a labour organization may require employees to join the union and/or force employees to pay dues or fees to the contract negotiation and management organization. The Union`s safeguard clauses are included in the collective agreements negotiated between trade unions and employers. Unions prefer either to negotiate union security clauses that require all workers to be required to join the union after a probation period if they want to keep their jobs with the employer, or a boutique agency clause that requires workers to pay a fee for union collective bargaining if they decide not to become unionized. Since the union is required to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions and to enforce the collective agreement on behalf of all workers, the objective of union security is to prevent workers from becoming “parasites”, i.e. workers benefit from union representation without financially supporting the services received. THE security of the Union is currently under attack in the United States. In 2015, 16 state legislatures introduced Right to Work (RTW) bills, with Indiana (2012), Michigan (2012) and Wisconsin (2015) having implemented RTW laws over the past four years. This legislation makes it illegal for unions and employers to negotiate union security clauses such as the trade union shop and the agency shop in collective agreements.
Since March 2016, 25 states have passed RTW laws. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decides during this Legislature to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, public sector unions in the United States can no longer require non-members to pay a fee for the collective agreements they receive. Given that Justice Antonin Scalia was considered the deciding vote and with his death in February 2016, a 4-4 draw would mean that the verdict of the first instance would be upheld. However, this verdict ultimately depends on the Senate`s timely approval of President Barack Obama`s Supreme Court nominees. While it is now clear that an employer and a union can accept the language of union security, which contains no explanation of the right to be only a basic financial member, neither party can apply such a clause in a way that would violate the worker`s right not to join the union. Therefore, employers should continue to refrain from responding to a union`s request to relieve a worker of the affiliation requirements imposed by a union safety clause because of its non-compliance with the affiliation requirements, without the worker being informed that he or she is not required to be an official member of the union and that he or she does not pay dues for centralized representation. The NLRB found that the general union security clauses that purport to require “union affiliation”, while ambiguous, are not incantatory against the National Labor Relations Act. However, at least two federal appels courts disagree.